seems to be in such short supply, that many people don't even have
time to attend a seminar or read a book on time management. For
those time-crunched people who are looking for some quick
suggestions for making the most of their time, here are 25 keys to
effective time management:
1. Don't rush.
People who don't have the time to do something right always seem to
have the time to do it over again. Mistakes occur more frequently
when a job is done in a hurry. Take the time to do it right in the
first place. If you can't get everything done, at least get the most
important things done right.
2. If in doubt,
ask. Inadequate communication is a sinkhole for time. Don't bluff,
ask. Get your pride from a job well done, not from being able to
guess what's required. Asking is faster than trying to piece
together fractured communications. You are respected for your
accomplishments, not your silence.
3. Write it
down. Writing things down does not mean you are circumventing your
memory -- you are simply helping it to do its job. We all need
reminders to prevent a myriad of essential tasks from dying of
neglect. The pen is mightier than the sword -- and it writes better.
4. Organize your
work area. An organized desk is not the sign of a sick mind, it is
the sign of an organized mind. People do better on exams when neatly
dressed, excel in sales when well-prepared, and are more productive
at work when their materials are arranged in an orderly way. Keep
your in-basket off your desk to minimize interruptions and
distractions. If possible, have your desk face the wall.
5. Plan your
day. If you have no objectives for the day you will likely have a
matching set of results. Plans are the handrails that guide you
through the day's distractions and keep you on course. Plan what you
will do at the start, evaluate progress during the day, and measure
results at the finish.
6. Schedule your
tasks. Listing jobs on a "to do" list shows your intention to work
on them; but scheduling important tasks in your planner reveals a
commitment to get them done. Make appointments with yourself at
specific times to work on your priority tasks. And try to keep those
7. Keep files
trim. The more you have, the harder it is to find anything. Don't
keep documents that are available somewhere else. File temporarily,
not permanently, by marking a "throw out" date on paper you think
you may need in the future. When in doubt, throw it out. Purge all
files on a regular basis.
deadlines with assignments. Never assign anything to others without
indicating when it is to be completed. Note that date in the follow
up section of your planner. Never use "ASAP" or "rush"; be specific.
If it's a long term assignment, follow up at predetermined
9. Don't be a
perfectionist. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well. But
"well" does not mean perfectly; it means it is sufficient to fulfill
the purpose intended. Don't spend inappropriate amounts of time on
tasks that don't require that degree of accuracy or completeness.
10. Have a daily "quiet hour." It doesn't have to be perfectly quiet, nor does it
have to be an hour. But everyone needs time for themselves to think
through a pressing problem, complete a difficult task, or allow
their creativity to blossom. If the environment doesn't allow it,
change the environment for an hour or so. It could be more aptly
called a "focus hour".
11. Respect the
time of others. If everyone treated others as they themselves would
like to be treated, there wouldn't be the unnecessary personal
interruptions, telephone calls, electronic messages and
correspondence that most people are experiencing. Accumulate your
questions, concerns and assignments and interrupt others less
12. Handle paper
only once. When possible, that is. Don't even look at your mail
until you have 30 to 60 minutes available to review it. As you pick
up each piece of paper, either scrap it, delegate it, do it, file
it, or schedule a time to do it later. The same thing applies to
13. Use a follow up file. When reviewing your mail, don't throw
things back into the in basket. Instead, mark the date you intend to
work on it in your planner and place the paperwork in that
corresponding date in your follow up file. If it is a priority, and
will take a half-hour or more to complete, actually block off the
time in your planner.
procrastinate. Procrastination is putting off until later what is
best done now. If it's too large a task to complete at one sitting,
break it into chunks and do a little at a time. If it's distasteful,
do it now and get it over with. Putting things off wastes time,
causes stress and helps make life unpleasant for yourself and
15. Get rid of
magazines. Don't let them accumulate. Immediately tear out the
articles you want to read, keep them in a "Read" folder, and toss
out the magazines. Or photocopy the articles if the magazines cannot
be destroyed. If you're not gaining much from looking at the
magazines, cancel your subscription.
family time. Don't use your planner exclusively for work activities.
Schedule personal time and family time into your planner as well.
Activities that are scheduled are usually the ones that get done.
Make sure everyone in the family has his or her own planner. Have a
family planning time each week.
17. Say "No'
more often. Some people say "Yes" to others simply because they're
available or don't want to offend. Make sure the request is
compatible with your goals before you agree. Have as much respect
for your time as you have for other peoples' time. Remember, every
time you say "yes" to something, you are saying "no" to something
else that could be done instead.
18. Record your
telephone calls. Don't rely on your memory. Make notes in a
telephone log booklet or steno pad while you are on the line.
Indicate any action required on your part by jotting a note on the
right hand side of the page. Cross it off when it's completed. You
are less likely to be interrupted if you're writing, concentration
will improve, and you won't forget to follow up. You will also have
an accurate record of what was discussed.
more. This is the greatest time-saver of all; because it frees up
time for more important tasks. If you have no one to delegate to,
ask your suppliers to help. Or delegate to a computer. It can
retrieve information for you, fax, dial the telephone, or send
e-mail. Be on the lookout for time-saving equipment and supplies
that will help free up your time. Don't delegate anything that can
20. Subscribe to
condensed information. Receive your information in brief relevant
chunks by subscribing to cassettes or newsletters such as
Communication Briefings, Executive Edge or Boardroom Report. Utilize
commute time, waiting time and travel time to review these
21. Have one
planner only. Use the same planner for scheduling both work and
family activities. You only have one life to share, so keep only one
planner or you will soon have conflicting priorities. Avoid the
necessity of "double entry bookkeeping." Take the planner with you
when you go to meetings, seminars, on trips, or home.
stress. Recognize you can't do everything or be all things to all
people. Be organized, effective and efficient; but don't go on a
guilt trip just because you can't do the impossible. It's not the
stressful environment, but your reaction to it, that does the
damage. Your health should be your number one priority. Without it
you're of little use to anyone.
Pareto's Principle. This 80-20 rule suggests that 80% of your
results are achieved by 20% of the things you do. Focus on the
priorities, and if everything doesn't get done. let it be the less
24. Put your
goals in writing. Time is life. Don't leave it to chance. Determine
where you would like to be in 10 years or 5 years and put those
goals in writing. Then schedule time for yourself to work in that
direction. Where you will be in 10 years or 5 years is determined by
what you are doing today, tomorrow and next week.
25. Attend fewer
meetings. Many people spend over half their working hours in
meetings. Question the necessity of your attendance. If you can
contribute or benefit equally well by writing a few notes or making
a few quick phone calls, do so. Meetings frequently consume
inappropriate amounts of time. And time is money.
has been speaking, writing and conducting training programs on the
topic of effective time management for over 25 years. He has written
16 books, including a Canadian bestseller, Making Time Work For
You. He has developed over 50 time management products that have
sold in 38 countries around the world.
Copyright © 2008 by Harold Taylor Time
Consultants, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.